Yup, this year is not a win for me. But it's still better than last year where I didn't even start.
Watching myself struggle to carve out writing time, or even finding writing time and just sitting at the computer looking at nothing and typing nothing, made me feel terribly guilty, especially since I did walk away from the 3 Day Novel Challenge with over 43,000. If I can write 43,000 words in 3 days, WHAT THE HELL MAN?!?!
So then I started to really think about what made writing a novel in 3 days easier than writing a novel in 30.
Well, I narrowed it down to two reasons.
1st: Time off. Writing is both a solo sport and a team effort. With the 3 Day Novel taking place over a long weekend, it wasn't just necessary for me to take those three days off, but it required my partner to take three days off to pick up the slack that I created. I had to do some pre-noveling preparations like cooking and freezing an abundance of ready-made meals, and getting the whole house clean and laundry done, but then it was in hubby's hands to make sure that everyone ate, was clean, and relatively happy. It meant that any projects that he intended to work on before going back to work had to be put on hold so that I could just sit and write (and have my meals delivered to my perch).
There is no way that I could ask him to take off 30 days. And even though I technically only need a couple of hours each day to pull off 50,000 words in 30, I know first-hand how full his plate is.
I did NaNoWriMo while doing the teaching program. But back then it was just the two of us and he worked full time in an industry that didn't give homework. Now there's three of us, one of which is a pretty demanding little dude, and while hubby is home evenings and weekends, it doesn't mean that he's done working. Times when I have been able to write for NaNo this year has been when everyone else is in bed. Well, I can only have so many good nights of that. Little one has me up at 2am and around 4:30. Hubby is off to work by 7:00am. And then it's all me until 4:30pm, at which point dinner should be started so that he can eat before having to get some more work done, and somewhere in there we like to be a family.
When we brought the little one home from the hospital (I mean, he was already three months old by this time,) we decided that we'd schedule home office hours for ourselves so that we could get our own stuff done. That hasn't worked out so well.
And while I know that pretty much all of the above is just a list of excuses, the point is that I decided that some things weren't worth carving out an hour of writing time for. No, we didn't HAVE to put the tree up this early. No, we didn't HAVE to hangout with friends that weekend. No, we didn't HAVE to have a family outing that day. But I wouldn't trade those things. And sacrificing sleep to make me more miserable the next day doesn't help anyone - it doesn't even motivate me to write. So I'll take my slow-going mornings where my son and I snuggle. I'll use his nap times to throw in a few loads of laundry and maybe get something updated. And I'll give my husband time to sort out his new teaching life - because I know what that's like, and as my maternity leave is coming to an end, I have to say that the mental/emotional exhaustion is just not something that I miss.
In looking at things this way, I don't feel so bad about not reaching 50,000 words. I don't regret what I did with my time.
2nd: The story. The novel I wrote for 3 Day had been filed away in my head for several years. It just so happened that I was able to fill in a key component that helped bring everything together. So I was pretty familiar with the overall story and my main characters before the challenge even began.
The novel I started for NaNo is a rather spontaneous idea. Don't get me wrong, I still like the idea, but it hasn't had the same amount of time to simmer. I get distracted by second-guessing the POV's, and trying to balance out how much of this story should be humorous and how much should be heartfelt - and I still don't have an answer to these questions. So the story is much rougher. In many places it has been more forced. And while I can see the ending and think it's masterful, it's the little stops along the way that feel rigid. I'm not even sure if this story should be a 50,000 word novel. I'm not sure if the right characters are telling the story. And so, left with a lot of questions, it's been a struggle to just jump into.
But I can't complain. I have added to my list of WIP's this year. I have launched myself into different themes, exploring scenes and structures that are new to me. And frankly, writing even one new story a year is a successful year for me, so having two novels and two shorts, plus all of the feedback I've been giving this year to help other writers, I'd say that I've used my time well. Not perfectly, no, but well enough.
So congratulations winners, as well as to those of you who added just a few words to your page. You made something! Finished or not, you did the hardest part - getting started! You've already beat out the millions of people out there who didn't even make it out of the gate this year.
And if you are one of those still in that gate? It's okay. The year isn't over yet. And besides, 2017 is a great time for a fresh start!